Senate scraps Lockerbie hearing after BP 'snub'
New BP chief executive Robert Dudley upsets US senators on day one
If anyone thought that by replacing Tony Hayward with an American chief executive relations between the oil giant and Washington would suddenly improve, they were wrong. Bob Dudley doesn't officially take over from the hapless Tony Hayward until October 1, but on the day that BP formally announced his appointment, Dudley informed the US Senate that neither he nor his predecessor intended to appear before their Lockerbie hearing.
Instead, he would send a relative junior - Peter Mather, who is head of UK operations but not a main board member - to answer the foreign affairs committee's questions about the Lockerbie bomber's early release and the suspicions (refuted both by BP and the Scottish government) that the oil company had something to do with it.
As a result, having already been snubbed by the two key political players it wanted to hear testimony from - British Justice Secretary Jack Straw and Scottish justice minister Kenny MacAskill - the Senate has postponed indefinitely the hearing scheduled for Thursday.
A very angry Senator Robert Menendez said: "I would have thought that a company on thin ice with the American people for devastating the Gulf Coast would want to fully co-operate with our effort to fully understand the release of a terrorist who murdered 189 Americans."
Dudley's snub came as Hayward told reporters he had been "demonised and vilified" by the US media because of the Gulf of Mexico spill.
Speaking at BP's London headquarters yesterday, following the announcement of his departure, Hayward accepted that he had made one or two PR gaffes - including the infamous remark that "I'd like my life back" - but argued that BP had mounted an "unprecedented response" to the spill.
"It may not have been a great PR success. You can argue about whether it could ever have been a great PR success, [but] operationally we capped the well and cleaned up a hell of a lot of the oil."
In short, he said, BP's response to the tragedy had been "a model of good social corporate responsibility".
If that didn't get the US senators fuming, another remark did. Asked if he would be attending Thursday's Lockerbie hearing on Capitol Hill, he replied that he was "too busy".
Sen Menendez, referring to the £1m payoff and £600,000-a-year pension Hayward is taking with him, said: "It is apparently more important to BP and Mr Hayward to focus on his multimillion dollar golden parachute than to help answer serious questions about whether the company advocated trading blood for oil." ·
Comments are now closed on this article